Writer Jasmine Khan / Photographer Connor Pope
Before I’m greeted at the door of House of Allure’s Tower of Terrors by two haunted concierges and a glass of prosecco, photographer Connor and I endure some rather distasteful homophobia outside of Missing Bar, cowardly flung from a licence plate I didn’t manage to catch.
If you don’t like ‘the gays’, maybe don’t drive down Hurst Street on a Friday night!?
The state of the world aside, House of Allure is hitting all the energies I’d hoped to feel in the moments leading up to halloween-burlesque-cabaret-drag. The loud, staticky 20’s music, dim lighting, and intimate seating hides me away from the world. It’s a bit, but not overly sexy, with a majority fem audience rocking everything from jeans to lingerie.
I’ve got time to take in all the decorations which includes a shimmering burlesque curtain, spiderwebs galore, and a sinister service elevator sign, as well as a chandelier that might be House of Allure’s, or Missing Bar’s. Either way it’s doing bits for the haunted hotel atmosphere.
Although the vibes are top notch, it’s not until 8:15pm that there’s a hint things are about to get going. This is my first time at a burlesque show, and maybe I’m being shady because I rushed my look to make doors at 7:30pm, but I’ve been on the edge of my seat for a while now.
Flash, and the lights are off. I’m back in Disney and shitting myself just like the last time, as the Tower of Terror voice over rings loud and clear over the speakers.
It’s worth the wait. Their lip sync is to the letter and the choreography is seamless and hilarious. Dominus is not getting enough applause in my opinion, but the crowd seems a little shy and needs some warming up.
“Please don’t touch our performers tonight,” Dominus says, “we have an axe behind the bar.”
I love a queen with firm boundaries. Dominus explains how they’re going to lubricate us before the evening’s fearful thrills – how exciting.
“Are we ready for our first hotel resident?” The audience’s response is a resounding yes.
Kitty Ribbons is up first, after some brief ghouls in the sound system, and she’s dressed as an army officer. This doesn’t usually tickle my fancy, however, it’s getting stuffy in here already as Kitty fans her blushing face, marching around, saluting and starting her tease.
Oh dear, she’s whipped an American Flag out of her bra and I’ve gone all Sahara Desert.
This next performer is much slower, sultry. Jada Love is donning a sequin, midnight blue ball gown and matching feather bower. A bluesed up version of ‘Seven Nation Army’ with extra bass plays as she commands the stage, directing us to appreciate every curv before throwing her bower callously to the floor.
Jada bends over daintily and slaps her arse firmly looking into my eyes (I swear). She’s not giving us too much just yet, with their final spotlight leaving Jada playing demure centre stage.
Mama Mamba has a filthy introduction from Dominus, so I can’t wait to see what she’s about. Dripping in jewels and basically nothing else, Mama Mamba sashays her way onto the stage winding her hips and waist slowly like a belly dancer. Facing away from the audience she takes off her bra and drops it by her side.
Turning around for the big reveal, she vigorously shakes her sparkly nipple tassels in circles. Then, starts stapling (yes stapling) tarot cards to her body. Not her costume, her body and specifically, Mama Mamba’s left breast.
Que the first 15 minute interval.
After the break, it’s the Salem Swingers featuring our stunning host with support, and yet against no one’s missing a beat.
Then, it’s Lolita Lash, and they are not what I expect to see when I hear the word Lolita. Whenever I hear the word Lolita, my gag reflex is triggered. Dressed as a sexy-scary baby-clown, Lolita Lash makes me very uncomfortable in a totally different way to standard interpretations of Lolita.
Their costume is detailed, and their paint is perfectly erratic. Their teasing is even stranger than the look, and some lady in the front row is screaming and jumping out of her chair.
Fuck, now there’s balloons and Lolita Lash is popping them with their nail. Will this nightmare never end?
At times Lolita Lash’s lip sync is a bit out, but it’s a tricky track and I must say the experience is exceptionally creative, as well as traumatic. Which is clearly the aim of the game with tonight’s theme. Bravo.
Dominus introduces the next act, scolding and scowling, “this is my understudy Lioness” and they roll their eyes before exiting the stage. Lioness enters dressed as a sexy French maid; an experienced dancer, she moves across the stage deliberately, popping her limps at weird yet somehow graceful angles.
Lioness is power, she’s raw energy, and she’s fluttering her grey feather duster all over my photographer Connor. Bless, I’ve never seen them, or perhaps anyone, look so pink and flustered.
All of sudden, Lioness has dragged a chair centre stage. Perching on it, she proceeds to slide down on her belly, leaving her bare bum exposed at the top wiggling it in the air.
As Lioness sulks off, finger in her mouth, dragging the chair with her, I see… is that Velma from Scooby Doo on stage?
No is Locques La Roux. I’m trying not to fall off my chair as Velma nervously bites his nails, running around, before slipping and spreading eagle. As he strips down to his deliberately bulging speedos, the crowd turns into puddles of giggles.
Another break!? Maybe it’s to make room for all the extravagant costume changes.
Three ghosts in sheets and suspenders appear to welcome us into the next part of the show, bopping around in sync to an old Louis Armstrong track – ‘Spooks’. Finally, they reveal themselves to be Dominus and the concierges, yet again.
Our little soldier Kitty is back after the break as well, but she’s much more pussycat than before, with silk white gloves and a simmering pink ball gown. After a brief zipper problem that she plays off perfectly, Kitty’s down to a diamante encrusted corsets – how babydoll.
The stockings come off one by one, and we get peaks of soft skin behind the stunning (and I hope faux) fur shawl. Whilst all the acts are indeed thrilling, Kitty gets my award for the most classic and you’ve got to appreciate her attention to detail, and drama.
“No expense has been spared, it will be our biggest show to date,” cries Dominus.
Just as I think it’s over, Lioness dressed as Alice is back for a stomper, embodying all the emotions and weird frills of Wonderland. Her dancing is better than before and I’m bending my neck around everyone trying to make sure I see every move.
Her facial expressions shift and quickly as her movements and Lioness ruffles her skirt petticoats up around her shoulders one by one. Throwing them into the crowd, and stropping, stomping her feet, she mounts a chair once more, removing her bodice, revealing white silk and lace lingerie.
With one act left according to our host, I’m not sure what’s left for House of Allure to throw at us.
Jade Love closes the show as Voodoo Queen. This time, there is nothing demure about her performance, quickly stripping down to just her thong, with plastic skeleton hands hugging her breasts.
Jada Love falls to her knees, staring up at the ceiling and pours hot candle wax all over herself with the candle still aflame, then hot oil, before dropping into a full split and pumping up and down with her thighs at just the most suggestive amount.
You killed me House of Allure, tell my mother I died happy as a clam.
For more from Missing Bar go to: www.missingbar.co.uk